I've been looking forward to today ever since I got to meet and swap interviews with Jena from Muse Book Reviews last year during Book Blogger Appreciation Week. This year I got paired up with another new-to-me blogger--Lisa from Her Book Self. I've spent a fair bit of time browsing her blog now and it is excellent. She has both eclectic and discerning taste and I enjoy her take on books. I've already noted down several titles she recommends to add to my TBR. So please welcome Lisa to the 'Ville!
You ran a personal blog for quite awhile before starting up Her Book Self. What prompted you to start a book blog and how has your approach to blogging changed, if at all?
My personal blog started as a way to keep in touch with friends after college, but after connecting with so many of them on Facebook, my blog dwindled and posting updates was more of a chore than a source of enjoyment. I started reading other people’s book blogs and when I realized that some of the most interesting things I wanted to share with others were about reading and books, I decided to start something new! I picked the name Her Book Self as a play on bookshelf and also because I’ve found that the books a person reads can sometimes act as a small snapshot of a personality. With more people reading and commenting, I definitely feel encouraged to post more often, but perhaps the biggest change to my approach is that I am much more conversational now. I used to write mostly to entertain my friends, but now I want to share my thoughts as well as draw out opinions from other people.
Have you always been a reader or was there a specific book or series that really got you into reading?
My mom is a teacher so I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. I liked mysteries and general fiction as a child, but when I was in middle school my brother lent me his copies of the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman and I know those were the books that made me fall in love with fantasy. Also, it was my cousin who first lent me The Crystal Shard with the instructions, “You HAVE to read this book,” and not only is it still one of my all time favorites, it secured R.A. Salvatore as one of my very favorite authors.
I notice you’re an active member of LibraryThing. What first drew you there and do you use it primarily as a way of cataloguing your books or also as a social media forum?
I joined LibraryThing to help me keep track of books I was reading. People would often ask me how many books I read in an average year. I used to guess around 50, but when I actually started counting it turned out to be many more – so far I’ve already read 72 in 2010! The social side of the site has definitely been an added bonus. It’s strange to admit that I’ve made friends across the globe whom I’ve never even met, but reading tastes really do have a great power in bringing people together. My screen name over there is elbakerone if anyone wants to look me up and check out my catalog.
You mention on your blog that you have a three-star threshold for the site, meaning you do not post reviews for books you do not like. How did you decide on this policy and what was your reasoning behind it?
I’m a pretty positive person so for me, it’s much more fun to talk about books that I really like. My star ratings are more or less arbitrary so I don’t really even post them on my blog, but my general rule is that unless I would recommend it to others, I don’t blog about it. Three stars just seemed like a nice middle ground line between “liked it” and “didn’t like it”.
You and your husband read aloud together on car trips just like my husband and I do! What have been your favorite books to read aloud together and do you do all the voices, too?
We read a lot of young adult books together and I really liked reading the last few Harry Potter books with him. With all the hype that surrounded those books it was nice to share that bookish excitement with him. Plus, they lend themselves well to being read aloud. Other favorites were Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. People always think we’re a little strange when we admit to reading to each other and doing different voices for all the characters, but it really makes listening to books more fun. We’re currently reading through Erin Hunter’s Seekers series which follows a brown bear, black bear, and polar bear on a journey together and doing a different voice for each bear really is a lot of fun.
I noticed you were the happy recipient of a brand new Kindle for your birthday. How do you like it so far?
I’m still learning how to use it, but so far I really, really like it. The convenience of carrying multiple books around in the pocket of my purse is a huge advantage since I commute to work via public transportation. I also just learned how to use the dictionary feature. I started reading Treasure Island (free download) and came across the sentence “you shall hang at the next assizes,” and thanks to my Kindle I now know that assize is a historical term for a court in each county of England!
You are particularly interested in reading and reviewing indie authors. Which are some of your favorite recent discoveries that I should definitely add to my TBR?
I’ve read and reviewed two books so far by M. Clifford and I can’t rave about his work enough. He’s actually someone I met in college, but it wasn’t until years after graduation that my reading pursuits and his authorial debut brought us back in contact. He made the quarter-finals of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award for his work The Book, about a dystopian version of
which explores the pleasures and pitfalls of the digital revolution in reading. He’s also working on a time travel trilogy the first of which is currently available, The Muse of Edouard Manet. It tells the story of an art conservationist in present day who travels through time to meet and fall in love with Manet. Both works were excellent and I really enjoy Clifford’s writing style and admire his versatility. I know there’s sometimes a stigma associated with indie authors, and I’ve certainly read some that don’t bear mentioning, but there are also plenty of remarkably talented indie authors out there. As a reader, I’m confident that I can tell good writing from bad, and as a book blogger, I love to point out the lesser known authors to those that might otherwise not take a chance on them! Chicago
What do you do when you hit a reading slump and nothing you pick up seems to do the trick?
Usually that’s my cue to take a quick break from reading. I don’t usually hit slumps but occasionally if I’ve just finished a really amazing book; it’s hard to find something to follow it. Since most of my reading is done on the train, if I can’t get into whatever book I’ve brought with me, I usually just take a break from reading. That usually leaves me with time to phone a friend for a quick chat or sometimes I’ll think up story ideas of my own that I’ll scratch out on whatever paper I can find in my purse. My other solution is to pick up a kids’ book. Sometimes a cute, simple story that I can read through quickly sparks me back into reading mode.
You read and review quite a broad mix of genres, everything from literary fiction to comic books, fantasy and young adult novels to chick lit. What draws you to such a variety and how do you decide which book to pick up next?
I suppose I get bored easily if I read too much of the same thing. ;) Plus, there are so many good books and so many fantastic authors in genres all across the board. I feel that I would miss many great works if I didn’t read so eclectically. Aside from the occasional binge reading of a series, I tend to jump around and consciously choose something different from what I just read. If I’ve just finished a young adult book, I’ll pick up a thriller next, followed by a fantasy, and a classic, then maybe something romantic, before bouncing to a mystery.
What book have you found yourself recommending the most this year?
Thank you so much, Lisa!
Thanks, Angie! This has been a really enjoyable experience!